Today was blue sky, so we headed straight for the Empire State Building, 102 floors constructed in just 410 days with 7 million man-hours clocked, not being a building buff or anything but that sounds pretty impressive, and the view is definitely impressive, and it was pretty cool because we pick out lots of places where we had been or what we were looking at (and yes this tower did have little info markers). So having surveyed NYC and taken our pics we marched into Chinatown and the chaos and stench that is canal street. Whoa was it bad, and in my job in Sydney I smelt some pretty good Chinatown and inner west smells, but this one was too much. There were hawkers and what we assumed to be black market sellers (the black garbage bag was a small hint) everywhere, it was the weekend (and 9/11 tomorrow) so the streets were packed, it was a beautiful warm sunny day – am I painting the right picture – so needless to say we saw all we needed to and got the hell out of there and headed downtown a little.
We passed the civic centre with city hall, the supreme court and international trade court.
We then stumbled upon probably a once in a lifetime event, a real live sighting of the President of the United State with full secret service detail and motorcade to boot!
Under normal circumstances little George could go jump, but to see the whole ensemble was something neither of us was going to miss. He was in town for a memorial service at St. Paul’s, which is where we first stumbled onto the whole thing. Having walked past the church where a white party ‘tent’ was being erected it caught my eye not really the normal thing to have at a church entrance, then it occurred to me we had heard on news this morning that the president was going to a church service. Now the tent thing was looking a whole lot more interesting, then it hit me, it was the secret service canopy that they erect for the president and yep sure enough upon surveying the surrounding area, there sticking out of the hordes of people like the proverbial were the secret service goons. So we decided to hang around and watch the circus. And hang around we did for about 2.5hrs – crazy I know but how could you by pass this opportunity. so we are standing behind the barricades right in front with front row view of Broadway st, the church and canopy, watching the goons parade around. After standing there for about 2hrs they clear the area, so we move a little further down the street, get moved again, then finally we find a spot, at the front again, where we don’t get moved.
By this time the snipers are on the roof (for real we have the pictures), Broadway has been closed, um yes Broadway like only just about the busiest street in NYC, the goons have tripled in numbers, and are now joined by an alarming number of NYC’s finest guys and gals in blue. The street are filling up, the traffic is being diverted with even more urgency which really doesn’t seem possible, then along come the police chiefs and secret service advance party checking all is ok, and then there is silence, complete silence an eerie silence on what should be and not long ago was an extremely busy loud intersection and then we hear it, the sound of American Harley Davidson police bikes lots of them, and now the show is about to really heat up.
The bikes come screaming, not cruising screaming along followed by big black tinted window RV’s and then the two presidential cars with state and president flag flapping, George and Laura waving, crowd clapping, a little cheering, then the car disappears inside the canopy, but outside the show is still going, the Big black cars keep coming but Now they are crammed with big burly men and large machine guns, then the media come running hordes of them running to get into the church or front row across from the church in the press area, you see unfortunately for the press they are at the rear of the motorcade and running is a better option then waiting for the big black cars to organise themselves on each street and angle they have mathematically I am sure worked out is best.
So the show is over …. Nooooo …. We are now in the “frozen zone” nothing in nothing out nothing moves, for another whole hour! So yep we are standing on a shut down Broadway street watching the sun start to slip down the sky, waiting for George to finish his presidential business.
So whilst we are waiting we watch the circus in revervse the bikes lining up, black cars hooning around, big burly men wandering looking trying to look impressive, and then we see it disappear into the darkness of Broadway, and the city tries to unravel itself from a gridlock from hell. Us, we walked and jumped the subway, grabbed some extremely tasty Chinese and pondered our boring little existence.